Reality of moving a product to market

I am very interested in learning how to use the mbed boards for my own interest and enjoyment, but my main interest is in developing a product that I might like the mass produce. I have tried to search the Internet for information on moving from a functional prototype (which I don’t have yet) to mass production, but I can’t find much useful information. Are these boards just for hobbyists, or are they for serious product development and prototyping. Has anyone here ever made a prototype with a board like this and actually used that to attract investors and get someone to mass product the product? I contacted one production company with a few simple questions and they didn’t even respond. Is there a special way to approach companies like that? Do they even care if I have a working prototype on a little mbed board? Will they have to do all my work over again in order to use components that they are familiar with using? And if so, does that mean you have to involve a production company before a prototype is even started? Or will they be able to take my little prototype that I piece together with wires and some of my own custom code and turn that into a product that can be mass produced in a low cost way? I mean what bridges the gap between a prototype made from a little board like the ones that mbed sells and a mass produced product that probably won’t use the same components (or maybe it will), but could use the same platform, but would be configured totally differently? Would I just show them my prototype and give them the code I wrote and two weeks later they would come back with a finished product?

Anyway, I came to this forum because I will probably order one of the mbed experiment boards and, besides wanting to use it to prototype a potential product, I am excited about doing some C++ coding after about 20 years of doing mostly php work. Back in the day, I had the pleasure of writing some C code, and a little bit of assembly code, that communicated directly with the hard drive. I worked for one of the few companies that wrote the setup and diagnostic software that came on those 3.5 inch floppy disks that were shipped with every new hard drive. It was really cool work and I’m looking forward to writing some more C++ code, and maybe assembly too, maybe for some stand-alone desktop applications, but also to experiment with writing embedded software. This is all very new to me, so if you know of any great sources of information for a someone just getting into it, I would be very interested.

Few comments from me - not an exhaustive answer as your question is a huge topic but some guidance hopefully.

The available boards on mbed pages are a good way of getting your product idea to be more concrete, you can work on the SW and product concept to realize the main bottlenecks and also to make a demonstration for other potentially interested parties e.g. investors.

But getting from the prototyping to a real product is IMHO another story all together. The board and potentially other needed components you have chosen for the prototype most likely are not something you’ll end up using for the final product. Definitely for the mass production phase you’ll (very likely) need to optimize the board design e.g. making it smaller and also selection of the other (peripheral and PCB) components will need to be done carefully based on the availability/quality and not the least price. So if you get to a phase when your prototype will gain enough traction for your product concept you might want to find a design and/or production company who will help you on those things.

About giving the stuff (prototype and the code) for the design/production company I’d advice a word of caution. You need to think if you have any IP there you’d want to preserve for yourself (or is your product the “only” valuable thing you have done). And also you need to think it from the effort/cost point of view - the more you make yourself the cheaper it is. But as said earlier, you don’t want to and most likely cannot do everything by yourself. So when starting co-operation with somebody putting time and effort on getting the appropriate agreement(s) in place is a tedious but important step to be taken into account.

Start with the elementary toolkit of foam board, cardboard. You can also do 3-D printed prototypes. We had a pitch session at Fenway Park where an 8-year-old came with a 3-D printed prototype. You can rent those machines for $15 an hour now, so they’re not inaccessible. If you’re starting to get the kind of response you’d hoped for, you might need a visual presentation, too. I love when someone reaches out to a designer or engineer to help move to the next level. Or you can join a hacker lab to try out ideas.

product prototype company

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